The following review appeared at SFFWorld.com:
The Binding Returned is the first installment in Jeffrey Morrow Miller’s The Books of Time series, and begins with the kind of deeply philosophical question posed in bars during the long hours of the night:
Have you ever wondered what lies beyond?
With this question Miller sets the theme to explore the life of Hamish, a teenaged apprentice bar back and brewer who struggles to meet the needs of the thirsty clients at the Beggin Inn in Riversea. The guided chaos of crowded bars is deftly crafted as Hamish flies between customers and disparate conversations until ending at the table of three travelers, Captain Grey, Navarra, and Falkyr, who have come to remind Hamish of his larger responsibilities to his family. Hamish is a prince from the Highlands, and has spent many years ignoring his obligation to return and undergo a rite of passage known as The Testing. His failure to return has placed the continued existence of his family’s lineage at risk, so Hamish leaves Riversea accompanied by two fishermen and Navarra and Falkyr (both sons of high kings who govern different realms). The men follow the river inland to the waters of the Silver Lake, and when Hamish chooses to accompany one of the fishermen onto the lake he is nearly killed when the dinghy is caught in a whirlpool.
The next day Hamish receives an invitation for dinner from the lake’s guardian, the Lady of the Silver Lake, and during the meeting the Lady acknowledges ‘the need of young men to test the boundaries and bonds of society.’ This statement strikes at the heart of Hamish’s dilemma as he chafes against his unavoidable destiny of governance. This is a story about fates both seen and unseen, however, and a young man who learns his actions or inactions have consequences that stretch beyond their immediate and foreseeable result. After the dinner Hamish engages the Lady in a game of strategy, and discovers that he holds an ability to make Magic when the game boards explode after he performs an unconventional move in the game. The following day Hamish, Navarra and Falkyr receive a proposal from the Lady that they attempt to cross the Silver Lake to its forbidden side and make contact with anyone living in the City of the Immortals. Hamish and his party encounter magical barriers that assail his ability to endure their challenges, and he soon learns the Nietzschean adage that what does not destroy us, makes us stronger.
The Binding Returned carries the rich historical detail of Tolkien and sets the groundwork for a storyline that spans the here and the hereafter. It is a world where imaginative rumor and the discrete use of Magic coexist, and a young man comes to understand the importance of keeping your eyes open when running away.
Reviewed by J. D. O’Guinn author of A World That We Expect.
I found ‘The Lady of the Rivers’ disappointingly gentle, given the violent and precarious times. Jacquetta and her family never seem as endangered as I would have expected them to be. Historical events also tended to be summarized. I would have expected a person as close to them as Jacquetta would have been much more interested – allowing the author to really explore events, and the personal politics causing the events.
Can a single man change the course of history? A review of ‘A World That We Expect’ by JD O’Guinn for SFFWorld.com
‘A World That We Expect’ starts slowly, to allow the horror of the near-future to really unsettle the reader. But when Emmett Helaman returns to the hidden refuge where his people are supposedly safe, and learns they only have a few more years to survive, the novel becomes a real page-turner. The plot builds to a climax that only allows the briefest of epilogues.
That the only survivors 100 years into our future are members of America’s largest ‘doomsday-cult’ religion distinctly adds to the creepiness of the story. While the plot develops in a series of unexpected ways, the culture of those living in the barely surviving community of Asher is truly fascinating. I hope ‘A World That We Expect’ isn’t meant to be a ‘we told you so’ fantasy, because the clear links from the present to the projected future should serve as a strong warning to everyone. The blind trust in ‘God’s plan’, and the all encompassing need of all of the survivors in Asher to fulfill it, is not presented as a solution to our current global over-consumption. Our blind trust in the infinite resources of our planet is just one small human-caused mistake away from a world that we can expect.
The novel closely follows only one man, Emmett, who comes to understand that he must affect another, single man, in order to prevent his situation from reaching its inescapable end. As an emotionally crippled thinker, rather than a do-er, Emmett only acts when he literally has no other options. He has to lose everything, before he risks everything. The claustrophobic desperation of his situation makes for rather grim reading. Unfortunately, the presented future is so probable that the novel’s solution for its survival seems a bit of an far-fetched hope, rather than a potential plan that we will be able to actually use.
As one who is always reacting, rather than pro-acting, Emmett is pushed in ways the reader – and he, are not expecting. Everyone around him, and the reader, are quite sure that what he is attempting to do just won’t work. Once man just can’t change the course of history. But when the alternative is extinction …
The best of speculative fiction should serve harsh warnings about where our present world is headed, if we don’t do something about our current lifestyles. ‘A World That We Expect’ deserves a place among the great dystopian SF masterpieces. In the best of ‘science fiction’, the science and technology are critical to the story. This is not a ‘young-adult’ space-opera. The failures of science and its application that produce the post-apocalyptic world are clearly defined, and frightening plausible. The hard science solutions Emmett turns to are equally believable. But unlike many hard SF novels, which don’t go much beyond the authors technical wizardry, ‘A World That We Expect’ is mainly about the culture of those in America who are currently prepared for the end of the world for religious reasons. That gives the book a tinge of horror, and the mindless zombie.
Definitely worth reading.
Kindle : http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EBYKM7C/
‘A Conversation Overheard’, Being the opening chapters of volume one of the first of The Five Books of Time, is AVAILABLE FREE in all eBook formats.
There are some things that are known by everyone within The World, and many things which are unknown.
Everyone knows that one-thousand years ago there was The War That Broke Time. The Immortals tried to exterminate the mortals by releasing dragons into The World who only knew one thing – hunger.
The horror of their actions finally caused the Immortals to completely withdraw from The World into their Whitestone walled cities. The mortals found some – The Dragonslayers, who could heal themselves as fast as The Dragons could burn their bodies, who slowly saved The World. And the mortals then destroyed the one whom had started The War … The Goddess of Life.
For one-thousand years, seven of The Dragonslayers have kept the unchanging peace as The Nightlords of The Seven Kingdoms. Only the Nightlords know how to light the raw Globes which come from The Five Empires. It is only the heat and light of The Globes which allows men to survive the frozen darkness of winter.
Life in The World is hard, and men’s lives are short. But The Nightlord gave his Binding that those who obeyed his Code of The Covenant would bring forth one who would Reunite The World with all that is missing from it in The Underworld.
And in The Reuniting of The World and The Underworld, The Lord Binding will bring all that exists to the timeless, unitary perfection of The Union of All Things.
The existence of The World and The Underworld, and all that is within … will End.
‘A Conversation Overheard’is AVAILABLE FREE in all eBook formats.
Ginel Love’s new Kindle eBbook ’25 Tips to Balance Everyday Work and Play’ is a gem. Her common-sense advice is delivered clearly, directly, and with links to web sites with further depth if desired.
After explaining each of her 25 Tips, there is an exercise given to actually put them into practice. Her suggestions are all designed to make the readers life easier, rather than more regimented.
Everyone will not need all 25 Tips, but most will find many of them useful reminders of a better way to live their lives.
25 Tips to Balance Everyday Work and Play by Ginel Love is available for Kindle eBook readers for $0.99 at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EEMAPYG
The authors website is: http://askginelove.com/
‘Have you ever wondered what lies beyond?’
An innocent enough question, if you know what exists in your World.
When the son of the High King of C’Holm arrives in Riversea to accept his exile, Hamish is once again prompted to return to the Highlands and accept his duty as Prince of Sarzana. He is already a year too old to undergo The Testing upon The Sacred Mountain, so he can put off his departure a few more weeks and accompany Falkyr Fhar’son as far as Roadsend, where they have both been invited to visit The Lady of The Silver Lake.
The Lady sets a series of tests for Falkyr, in order to see if he is the one who can do something that has not been done in 1000 years. Without meaning to interfere, it is Hamish who catches the attention of The Lady, and the newly Spoken For Lady Megan, her adopted heiress.
Hamish’s childhood as the willing butt of the pranks of the sons of the High Mayor of Riversea has inured him to the pain that comes when common sense is ignored. It makes him ideally suited to search for a Door that does not exist.
But does it make him The Chosen One who can fulfill The Promise of The Binding Returned, and reunite The World and The Underworld? In his willingness to serve, will he sacrifice his own mortality?
Visit Amazon between Monday 26 August 2013 and Wednesday 28 August 2013 to get your copy: